JetBlue Fallout

JetBlue is taking steps to restore its image in the wake of its scheduling implosion last week that left passengers stranded in airports for days and in some cases sitting in grounded planes for more than 10 hours at a time. A day after trotting out CEO David Neeleman to the New York Times (who said he was “humiliated and mortified” by the delays), the company plans to unveil today a customer “bill of rights” program and new operating procedures. A YouTube video from Neeleman is also front and center on JetBlue’s website – a good use of the medium to speak directly to customers.

For a company that has developed a loyal following despite its low-frills approach to flying, this is a critical juncture. It seems to be aware of the damage control it must do. Here’s Eric Brinker, JetBlue’s director of brand management and customer experience, quoted in the Poughkeepsie Journal discussing the new passenger bill of rights:

“We’ll be reaffirming ourselves as a leader in this industry. It’s something that’s going to hold JetBlue financially accountable to a much greater extent than airlines have today. It’s something that really forces us to do right by our customers.

The airline already has pledged full credits or refunds to passeners whose flights were cancelled. So far, so good. But the next few months – and the steps the company takes to fix its apparently deep-seated operational problems – will determine just how much equity JetBlue has built up with its customers.

More broadly, some observes are calling the JetBlue fiasco a tipping point for airline travel, as the blogosphere heats up with calls for legislation to protect travelers’ rights.  Before the JetBlue troubles, a real estate broker named Kate Hanni had formed the Coalition for a Passengers Bill of Rights and is collecting signatures on a petition to spur Congress to enact new legislation for airline travelers. The JetBlue incident will no doubt feed those efforts.

Another great example of the power of social media.

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4 thoughts on “JetBlue Fallout”

  1. It’s also, in my view, a great example of how to handle a crisis. Responsbility was taken instantly from the top. Mistakes were acknowledged and are being fixed. I need to get to Florida next week and am planning to through JetBlue because I’ve always had good experiences with them and my sense is that after last week they will be trying extra hard. Now — if they do this a second time there will be a problem.

  2. Before JetBlue I was paying $800 to get to Florida each weekend on Delta Express on cramped seats and very old planes. JetBlue was first to offer new planes and great service with LOW fares. I’ve never had a bad experience and I know this is not like them. They do care, they have too much riding on it. JetBlue will always be my airline of choice.

  3. JetBlue is going above and beyond to win back loyalty, and it will go a long ways toward preserving their brand. My parents were scheduled to fly from Fla. to Boston on Feb. 15. Their flight was not cancelled – just delayed for 8.5 hours. After 6 hours of waiting at the airport they threw in the towel and booked a flight for the following morning (they paid $620 for the rebook and DID NOT cancel their first reservation.) when the dust settled they called jetblue to tell them what they did and jetblue refunded the whole $620 with no questions asked. that’s how badly they want to hang onto their customers. What other airline would do that?

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